Starting in his new position at City Hall last Thursday, Don Schaffer says his experience in Fernie has been positive so far. The City of Fernie welcomed Schaffer as their interim Chief Administrative Officer last week, and Schaffer will be working with the City until they acquire a full-time CAO.
While Schaffer is unsure how long he will be working in Fernie, he estimates it will be around three months.
“We talked about three months initially but it will be until a CAO is hired so I think three months might be a little optimistic but the person who is doing the recruitment is quite efficient,” he told The Free Press. “It might be three months, it might be a little less and it might be a little more.”
Schaffer has an extensive history in public service and was inspired to work in municipal governments after covering them as a newspaper reporter.
“I started on Thursday. I was, for almost 20 years, a newspaper man,” he said. “I went to City Hall to cover City Hall and saw all the smart, hardworking people trying to better the community and thought I might like to try doing that as well rather than just writing stories about them.”
Schaffer started working with the City of Prince George as a deputy municipal clerk in 1998 and worked there for a decade before taking a position with the City of Victoria, where he was for six years. Schaffer has been working with municipal governments in a temporary capacity for the last year.
So far, Schaffer is impressed with Fernie and felt welcomed from the moment he arrived on July 6.
“I rolled in on Wednesday night and it was like someone had thrown a party for me. It was the first Wednesday Night Social, with a band and food trucks and I thought, ‘this is pretty good, I like it here already’,” he said. “It’s been quite positive so far. The people I’ve met here at City Hall have been really friendly and helpful and welcoming and the people I have met out in the community are much the same. At this point, I’m completely happy to be here.”
The City has outsourced the help of James R. Craven and Associates Ltd. to spearhead the search for a full-time CAO. The deadline to apply for the job is currently set for July 22.